President-elect Barack Obama is nearly finished choosing his Cabinet as he prepares to leave Saturday on a holiday vacation in his native Hawaii.
Obama settled on California Rep. Hilda Solis for labor secretary and former Dallas Mayor Ron Kirk for U.S. trade representative, officials said Thursday. He was ready to introduce Republican Rep. Ray LaHood of Illinois as transportation secretary at a news conference Friday afternoon, although it wasn’t clear who else might join him at the podium.
The officials who disclosed the choices spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss selections that had not yet been announced.
In addition to transportation, labor and U.S. trade representative, Obama also has yet to announce senior intelligence positions. Democratic officials said on Thursday that Dennis Blair, a retired admiral and the former head of U.S. Pacific Command, is a leading contender to become director of national intelligence.
The president-elect also has a host of sub-Cabinet selections to make. For instance, Oregon State University professor Jane Lubchenco, a marine biologist and a top expert on overfishing and climate change, is a leading contender to head the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, according to colleagues at the school.
Solis, the daughter of Mexican and Nicaraguan immigrants, has focused on immigration and environment issues while in the House. Kirk, a partner in the Dallas office of the Houston-based powerhouse law and lobbying firm Vinson & Elkins, was the first black elected Dallas mayor.
LaHood, who is leaving the House after 14 years, would be the second Republican in Democrat Obama’s Cabinet. The other is President George W. Bush‘s defense secretary, Robert Gates, who has been asked to stay on at the Pentagon.
Obama has met with reporters each day this week to announce major appointments.
On Monday, Obama filled out much of his energy team, naming Nobel-prize winning physicist Steven Chu as energy secretary and former New Jersey environmental chief Lisa Jackson at the Environmental Protection Agency. He also tapped Nancy Sutley, a deputy Los Angeles mayor, as chair of the White House Council on Environment Quality and former EPA chief Carol Browner to lead a White House council on energy and climate.
Obama named Chicago schools chief Arne Duncan on Tuesday to lead the education department. And Wednesday, he tapped former Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack as agriculture secretary and Colorado Sen. Ken Salazar to head the Interior Department.
Thursday, he named three veteran regulators to help reform the nation’s financial institutions — Mary Schapiro as chairwoman of the Securities and Exchange Commission, Gary Gensler as head of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, and Daniel Tarullo as a member of the Federal Reserve.